A Craigslist ad went viral the other day, and for good reason: A group of young men wanted to hire a "BBQ Dad" to work the grill at their gathering. Requirements:

"We are in need of a generic father figure from 4PM to about 8PM. Duties include: Grilling hamburgers and hot dogs (whilst drinking beer). Refer to all attendees as Big Guy, Chief, Sport, Champ, etc. (whilst drinking beer). Talk about dad things, like lawnmowers, building your own deck, Jimmy Buffett, etc. Funny anecdotes are highly encouraged. All whilst drinking beer."

The "whilst" suggests they might be British, which is the only possible reason to forgive them. It seems a bit odd, no? They know exactly what the job requires, yet seem unable to do it. They know it would go like this:

"Hey, Zach, who's ready for a tasty hot-burger? I'm certainly looking forward to having mine with a cold brewsker."

"Uh, Sean, I think your lingo is a little off? Or are you misusing the words to connote an ironical detachment from masculine archetypes you've been trained to regard with genial derision?"

"I don't know anymore."

So they need a genuine BBQ Dad. Good. They might learn something. The natural, commanding ease with which a seasoned pro can season like a pro and eyeball that brat in the back that's close to bursting and move it away from the flame an inch.

"Why did you do that?" the young man might ask.

"Well, son, it was about to develop a seam. That's when the skin splits from excess heat. Then you get your fat flame-up, and I'm not talking about an angry Dom DeLuise! Oh, that's right; you wouldn't know who that is.

"Anyhoo, you get your drippings out of that seam, they hit the flame, and whoosh, someone call Red Adair! No, you wouldn't know him, either. Problem is, that flame will carbonize your brat skin. Some of you like that, but it's best to achieve that under controlled circumstances. Evel Knievel always knew how many cars he was jumpin' over, you know."

Everyone would be filming him with their cameras to preserve the wisdom in digital amber, so it could be watched later, the lessons extracted. (It would never be watched later.)

I have some sympathy for the fellows, because I am not a natural at-ease grill commander. It's taken years to learn the subtle art of managing a big grill, and I'm proud to say that my burgers no longer resemble a wad of anthracite. I've even developed secondary skills, like hoisting the propane tank and discerning how many meals I can get out of it, based on weight. (Every man has known the shame at some point of taking the tank back to the hardware store, and the clerk picks it up, then gives you that look: "Pal, you had seven steaks and 14 kebabs left in this baby, minimum.")

It would be interesting if someone decided to play with the lads and dispense information with occasional flashes of Marine drill instructor behavior. He shows up, puts on his Kiss-the-Cook apron, pops a beer — "Bud Light? Are you serious, Marine?" — and waves a hand at the propane tank.

"You there with the Flock of Seagulls hair, give us some gas."

The guy turns the spigot. Now what?

"Well, you'd best light that candle, Private Seagull, before we all die of hunger." The guy pushes the ignition button. There's a spark, but nothing catches. Everyone is confused. There's gas, there was a spark, but no fire? Me no understand.

"You flooded my grill, Private Seagull. You cranked the handle too fast. It overloads the regulator, which is one of those safety things they added to keep you from burning your eyebrows off. Close the tank and we'll do this again. When you open it up you've got to Mississippi that valve. Turn it a little, one-mississippi, turn it a little again, two-mississippi, until she's wide open. Are you getting this down?"

(Cameras come out again.)

"That's not getting it down! Don't you put this on the TicTacs or I will shove a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's so far up you will weep sauce tears! Do I make myself clear!"

"Sir, yes sir!"



I hope the guys find a good BBQ Dad, and learn from his wisdom so they can be true BBQers themselves someday. But if they're asking for advice on grilling hot dogs, they have a long way to go, because that's the grill equivalent of boiling water.

They also don't say anything about learning to clack the tongs, which is essential. Every BBQ Dad knows that this imparts a special flavor. How to avoid underclicking? Overclicking? You'll learn with practice, son. Some things a BBQ Dad just can't teach. Some things a man has to find out for himself.